Archives For Game Recap

Talk about a punch to the gut. On a night where the Lakers played a pretty good first half and had a 16 point lead in the 2nd half, they gave it all away over the last 15-plus minutes to lose their season opener to the Timberwolves 112-111.

While the story of the night was the collapse, the devil, as always, is in the details. The game started with a lack of flow for both teams. Coming off an emotional start to the game with an extended moment of silence for the recently passed, former T’Wolves coach and GM Flip Saunders, both teams were somewhat skittish. Shots weren’t falling, the ball wasn’t moving very freely, and guys seemed like they just couldn’t find a great rhythm.

As the minutes passed, though, both sides found their stride and an actual NBA game broke out. Fueling the Lakers was their 2nd unit. After D’Angelo Russell picked up his 2nd foul with 6 minutes left in the 1st quarter, he and Kobe went to the bench in favor of Lou Williams and Nick Young. Soon after that, Marcelo Huertas replaced Clarkson with Bass and Kelly subbing for Randle and Hibbert.

It was this bench crew that opened up the game, giving the Lakers a sorely needed boost. The ball whipped around the floor, but, more importantly, the wings were hitting shots.

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In the game preview I mentioned my only wish for the Lakers’ preseason finale was that they leave the game as healthy as they entered it. Well, if only wishing made it so. In the 2nd quarter, Jordan Clarkson injured his right shoulder and did not return. And if that wasn’t bad enough, post game, the news isn’t so great either:

Further reports from the post game locker room state Clarkson felt a sharp pain, though he thinks it’s “minor”. Either way, an MRI with the prospect of him not being available opening night is a tough pill to swallow on the final day of the exhibition season.

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Maybe both the Lakers’ preseason wins will have asterisks next to them. After beating a non-NBA team for their first W, the Lakers beat the Warriors 85-70, but in a shortened game when the refs and both head coaches decided to call the game after wet floor conditions caused multiple players to slip and fall over the course of the game. Player safety is still king and, while unfortunate to the fans who showed up, ending the contest was the right move.

The game itself offered some good moments for the Lakers, however. And while the Warriors by no means whole — Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Andrew Bogut all sat out — Steph Curry still had a fantastic game and offered a nice counter to the good the Lakers were able to accomplish. All in all, then, the fans who went to the game might not be happy about the ending — even with an ability to get a refund — but the game still offered plenty of entertainment for the time it lasted and gave us a couple of other evaluation points on some players.

On to the notes…

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The Lakers are now 1-4 in the preseason after falling to the Kings 107-100 Tuesday night. And while most of my mind is still on Lamar Odom and his current struggles in the hospital, the game too is worth a discussion. Even if only to point out how, in the span of two days, the Lakers could look like an entirely different team than the one that defeated Maccabi Haifa.

A lot of that is the talent level of the two opponents, for sure. Facing a bonafide NBA team rather than an Israeli League one isn’t just a step up in talent, but one in strategy, execution, understanding of tendencies, and so many other small details which contribute to the flow of the game and how easy/difficult any given possession is.

However, while crediting the Kings is important, it would be silly to ignore the things the Lakers did and did not do which contributed the differences in their own quality of play. The team simply did too much poorly and took an approach within possessions which is not conducive to winning basketball.

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It may not have been against an NBA team, but the Lakers got their first win of the exhibition season by dominating Israeli League team Maccabi Haifa 126-83. The score pretty much reflects the nature of the game as the Lakers jumped out to a 33-16 lead after the 1st period and never looked back.

This win is exactly what the Lakers needed, even if the opponent wasn’t one they’ll see during the season. A team can only go so many games where moral victories are the only wins earned. The Lakers, 0-3 to before this game, had seen plenty of that — especially the last two games — but this contest was different.

The defensive rotations, were crisper and paid off when the backboards were cleaned thoroughly. The ability to win off the dribble and draw the attention of multiple defenders led to easier ball movement and also paid off with made jumpers. For one night, then, everything (mostly) went the Lakers way and the scoreboard showed the fruits of their labor.

Onto the notes…

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The Lakers may be back on the mainland after eight days in Hawaii, but they did not fare any better against the Raptors than they did versus the Jazz. In their third preseason game, the Lakers fell 105-97 to the Raptors and remain winless in the exhibition season.

As we touched on in our preview, the team was a little shorthanded, but much like the game on Tuesday, there are positives to take away from the contest. The team competed on both ends of the floor for long stretches, got continued good play from key players, and good long looks at both Robert Upshaw and Jonathan Holmes for the first time this preseason. All in all, then, there was a lot of good to happen even though the final score brought another loss.

On to the notes…

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The only reasonable hope for the Lakers this preseason is seeing progress as the exhibitions transition to the actual season. From that respect, though the team lost 117-114 in overtime to Jazz on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, the team is on the right path.

As we discussed in the game preview, the hope was to see some better offensive execution, a shift in the rotations, and, in general, getting the players more on the same page on both sides of the ball. For the most part, these things all occurred. It wasn’t perfect — far from it — but it was better. I’ll take better over the alternative any day of the week.

And now, some notes on the game…

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As I wrote before the game, the preseason doesn’t carry a lot of meaning, but the Lakers were going to come out with their best foot forward by starting out well. And while it may not be reflected in the final score, the game did offer some good glimpses of what the team is hoping to be while also being reflective of what they currently are.

Some notes from the contest:

* Byron Scott treated this game almost like a scrimmage in how he did not mix his lineups much, instead giving both his 1st and 2nd units long runs together to start each quarter. The starting group of Russell, Clarkson, Kobe, Randle, and Hibbert played almost entirely together — save for Kobe (more on him in a minute) — giving them almost the entire 1st quarter and about half of the 3rd to find a rhythm together. Similarly, the 2nd unit of Lou Williams, Jabari Brown, Nick Young, Brandon Bass, and either Robert Sacre or Tarik Black played most of the rest of the game.

*No one shot well on the night which is reflected in the team shooting a very rough 26-90(!!!) from the field. Nick Young’s 4-10 from the field was easily the best shooting performance on the night, which basically says it all. Kobe went 1-5, Randle shot 2-10, Russell 2-8, and Clarkson 4-13. Off the bench, Lou Williams went 4-12 and Bass went 2-9. Jabari Brown gunned his way to a sad 1-6. Again, just horrid shooting.

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